Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Annotated Pride & Prejudice (2004)

Hardcore Austen fans: Buy this edition!

I just got from www.bn.com The Annotated Pride & Prejudice, and it has exceeded my (admittedly high) expectations. The annotator/editor is David M. Shapard who, despite having graduated from UC Berkeley, takes a level-headed, even-handed approach to this most beloved of Jane Austen novels. While I have disagreed with a few of his "clarifications" of Austen's intended meaning, I have been very impressed by his scholarly approach to contextualizing this book in terms of time and place. Especially appreciated by this reader were the chronology appendix, the citations and cross-references from Austen's other works as well as her juvenilia and personal letters, and the handiness of having historical explanations and definitions immediately accessible to the text. I also really liked the fact that the annotations were all included on the right-hand side of the book, with the text on the left-hand side. Although it was a little difficult to get used to, it certainly beats having all the annotations at the end of the book, as was done by Dierdre La Faye in The Letters of Jane Austen collection. Most preferrable for me would have been the notes at the bottom of the pages of text, as is my MacArthur Study Bible, but I am determined to be pleased with what I can get. The only addition I can think of that would have improved this edition would have been some geneology charts for the characters, including their full names and relationships as far as Jane Austen provided. That would have been desirable indeed.

An endearing part of this edition lies in the acknowledgments that the editor provides prefacing the text. He thanks the "citizens of the Republic of Pemberley, who formed one of the inspirations for my decision to embark on the project in the first place, and whose questions and discussions concerning Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice have stimulated my thinking and helped direct me to issues and points in the novel that deserve explanation or commentary." This tickled me pink, since I am such a fan of that wonderful community.

I cannot think of one library that would not be benefitted by this excellent edition. It is at least a venial sin for any Austentatious-type of collection to be without this well-done volume.

1 comment:

vermonster said...

You have my complete agreement! I received this wonderful and cherished book for my birthday from none other than the authoress of this Blog and have enjoyed it immensely! Thank you, dear Justine!